Settle Brexit bill quickly, says CBI

27 April 2017

The UK should quickly settle any Brexit divorce bill and move to create a new trade deal, the head of CBI has said.

The value of trade across the continent would “dwarf” any potential bill, said Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI director general. 

Cross continent supply chains contribute to EU-UK trade worth more than $600bn annually, making the economic case for a quick trade agreement clear, she added.

“Take a look at the numbers and you see that our long-term trading relationship is the real prize – dwarfing any potential divorce settlement,” she said. “A one-off EU divorce bill of, some suggest, tens of billions of euros, compared to EU-UK trade worth well over 600 billion euros every year.”

Some parties in the EU, including European Council president Donald Tusk, have said the UK should settle outstanding financial commitments before trade talks can start, a bill that could be between $40-60bn. The demand has the potential to become a sticking point in negotiations.

But in a speech at Cambridge University, Fairbairn said it was in the interests of both sides to “fully understand the realities of inter-connected, twenty-first century supply chains that have driven prosperity for so long [and] move quickly from deconstructing our old relationship to building an ambitious, comprehensive new relationship”.

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